ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal announced on Wednesday that the Passports and Immigration Office will begin issuing e-passports from next year.
The contract for the preparation of e-passports had earlier been signed by a representative of private French company ‘Gemalto’ and Passports and Immigration Director General Usman Bajwa in a ceremony held at the Ministry of Interior.
The e-passports are so called due to a microchip that contains all the biometric information of a traveller which is embedded in the document. The chip helps authenticate the identity of a traveller and officials hope the new system will prevent the forgery of travel documents.
The introduction of e-passports had been approved by the then interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan last year. The project was supposed to be fully operational by the current year, but questions had been raised over the transparency of the procurement process, leading to delays.
The incumbent interior minister said that the e-passports will first be issued for diplomats starting from March 2018 and will be available for the citizens from June 2018.